Project King Squid – Build an RC Dragster
Since we have been covering more RC drag racing lately, we have been getting questions about how to get started in the drag racing scene. Many questions are “where did you get the King Squid?” and “how do I get one?” Well, those are the questions I am going to answer here. It’s going to be a pretty short project, since RC dragsters are really pretty simple.
First off, you are going to have to start off with a good kit. There really isn’t a better place to buy RC drag racing kits from than Grand Motorsports! They are currently owned and operated by Mike Ogle. He’s been in the RC scene for a long time, and easily one of the nicest people in RC I have ever met. So head over there, and pick out a drag kit! Make sure to tell him Big Squid sent ya! The King Squid dragster is based on the Grand Motorsports dragster kit. The kit will cost ya about $200, and it’s worth it.
Ok, now we need a motor! Up until recently (Like within the last 8 months), you would of put in a 10th scale motor, probably 7 turn or something similar, and probably 7-9 battery cells. This setup was also a pretty good amount of $$ and maintenance. Well thanks to the amazing Mamba Brushless system from Castle Creations, you can now have a super fast, small and light brushless! This motor may look small, but it packs a major punch! Check the reviews section for what we have to say about this setup. In short, the Mamba is awesome! It’s completely programmable via USB or through a menu system you navigate with your transmitter. It’s very light, which is something you really want in a dragster. It’s durable, and oh yea, it’s frickin fast! I’m currently running a 3cell LiPo pack, while I get used to running the car at these kind of speeds. With a 4 cell pack, you can easily break the 80+ mph mark! And I’m not exaggerating! The Mamba brushless with speed controller will cost ya about $150. When people ask me about what brushless to get for their micro, I always tell them the Competition X package is too much power. But when it comes to drag racing, there’s no such thing! So go ahead and grab the Competition X package!
Now that we have the motor, we need something to power it with! I mentioned above that I was running a 3 cell LiPo. When it comes to LiPo, Apogee batteries from PFM Distribution are the way to go. Their batteries are very reliable, and their knowledge is awesome. Their web page talks all about setting them up, charging, LiPo Safety, and anything else you may need to get started. You can see my 3 cell 11.1v pack in the picture. While on the subject, make sure you wire everything up with DEANS connectors! They are really the best when it comes to transferring power, and they are cheap and easy to use. Don’t go making this awesome dragster, only to limit yourself by not getting a $1 connector.
Here on the right you can see 2, 2 cell packs wired in series. This gives you a total of 14.8v I believe. Wow! It’s pretty simple to wire up the packs in series. You can see here, that you just take the Positive from one pack, and the Negative from the other pack, and pump each of those into a single connector that goes to the speed control. Then take the remaining 2 wires, and connect them together. Note the special connectors, on the 2 wires that go get put together. These make it very easy to connect, and disconnect the packs. They are a little easier to see two pictures above.
You don’t have to take my word for it, but 60+ mph in under 2 seconds is pretty dang fast! It’s going to take some time, some practice, and a long, flat space to get used to pulling the trigger on this thing. Like I mentioned above, I’m still running the 3 cell pack, till I get used to controlling the thing. Take your time, get used to the feel. You’ll be much happier in the long run.
Your almost ready to go. You are going to need to set up the gearing. The dragsters are very simple. You want lots of speed. I recommend going with a 96 tooth spur gear. The HPI one or Team Associated ones fit great. For the pinion (the small gear on the motor) anything from a 11 to 15 tooth Team Associated (RC-18T size) gear will be great. The more teeth, the faster it will go. For the mesh setup, I have gone with the old standard. Stick a piece of paper between the gears, push them together, tighten, and spin. Once the paper comes out, your gears should spin pretty smooth. If not, do NOT try and run the motor, you are going to have issues. You want these to spin very freely.
Ok, we are almost done. There are just a few more things you will need to finish your RC dragster. You are going to want to throw in a micro steering servo. The lighter the better here. Dragsters don’t steer much, so you don’t really need anything amazing up here. I have my steering rate turned way down, so that small movements don’t send it off into a curb at 70mph. You can probably find a decent one for $30. You are also going to want to pick up some traction compound for the wheels. The sticky-er the better! You don’t want to be smoking the tires off the line, you want to be doing 70mph in 2 seconds! Last up, you need a radio system. Just about anything will do, but I’m finding out that you really want something with a lot of range. You’ll be surprised how far away one of these cars is in just a few seconds! I have recently installed the Nomadio Sensor radio in mine. I believe they currently have the farthest distance for transmitters on the market. It’s not cheap, but if you have a lot of vehicles like I do, the big upfront investment will be worth it later.
And that’s about it! So without the radio:
- Dragster Kit: $200
- Mamba Brushless: $150
- LiPo Battery: $40
- Servo: $40
For a total of about $430, (And a radio) You have one awesome dragster!
If you have any questions, or if I missed something obvious (me? never!) feel free to talk about it in the On Road Forum. I’ll start a thread there about this project write up incase anyone wants to comment or ask questions.
Here are links to all the companies I mentioned in this project. Make sure to tell them Big Squid RC sent ya when you order!
- Grand Motorsports – Drag Racing Kits
- PFM Distribution – Apogee Batteries
- Castle Creations – Mamba Brushless
Good luck, and have fun! If you see me anywhere out racing, feel free to stop by, say hi, and check out the King Squid!